This fortnight in online insights, we help you converse better, help you get on better with your kids, shine the spotlight on some dangerous journalism and then finish with some dangerous album covers. Enjoy

Can you improve your conversation skills? Certainly.

The Positivity Blog is quite a gold mine of timeless articles focussed on helping you tweak important areas of your life. The blog post I have focussed on for this show is one on common conversation mistakes.

It is a worthy read and I encourage you to look at it. Therefore, all I will do for this report is share some choice food for thought.

1 – Not listening. This is the most obvious conversation mistake and the post quotes Ernest Hemingway who once said: “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” The way to deal with this mistake is to check your ego at the door and actually not planning what you will say next but instead doing your utmost to be present and to get inside the story the other person is sharing.

2 – Asking too many questions. This is not as obvious but the point is that asking too many questions can feel like an interrogation. So their solution is to mix questions with statements. This means you actually invest in the conversation while keeping it going.

3 – Tightening up. One tip here is to never leave home without reading the paper or tuning in to the popular tv shows. I guess this is sound advice but it feels a little contrived if you are only doing it for conversation fodder. There must be a happy balance here somewhere. The other solution is to “assume rapport”. Just treat a stranger like a friend and assume you have spoken easily many times before – it is a neat trick if not overdone.

6 – Having to be right. I have a friend who is actually a counsellor but is also cursed with needing to be right every time on every single point. This article is spot on when it says “No one will be that impressed if you “win” every conversation. Instead just sit back, relax and help keep the good feelings going”. This is good advice because conversation is not really about right and wrong, it is most often about relationship building.

They are just some of the highlights. Read the full article on conversation mistakes and how to solve them for more details and some helpful examples. Perhaps the last word goes to Dale Carnegie’s quote in the article: “You can make more friends in two months by becoming really interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you. Which is just another way of saying that the way to make a friend is to be one.”

100 ways to spend quality time with your kids

Here is a South Australian initiative that it is hard not to like. The Uniting Church in SA has produced a simple resource called 100 ways to spend quality time with your kids. I think there would be very few people on this planet who would not agree that more quality time invested in our children today plants the seeds for a happier, healthier future for them and us. Of course, there would be very few among us who actually DO spend that quality time with our children.

And that is why I like this list so much. It is a thought-starter of free or very low cost ideas that children and parents can do together. Here are some highlights:

4. Cook a pizza – For a quick and fun meal together – make a pizza. Buy a base and choose your toppings or go to recipepizza.com for other ideas.

19. Spend time with a grandparent – Find something they enjoy doing and do it altogether – chess, scrabble, fishing, gardening, anything.

42. Visit a garage sale – Garage sales are a cheap and easy way to find new toys for your children and perhaps something for yourself. Why not make it a regular weekend outing?

73. Exercise together – Little kids may like something simple like a skipping rope or ball games like tunnel ball. Older kids might enjoy going to the gym or a dance class together.

92. Make a gift – Make a gift for an elderly neighbour or relative. Gifts like decorated candles or photo frames are a good idea

The best thing about this is that it gets your creative juices flowing. I am thinking that because Alexandra loves Thomas the Tank engine, one simple afternoon outing might be grabbing some cheap train tickets and going for a ride on a real train for an hour or so. What is mundane to us adults needs to be viewed through the lens of newness, bigness and wonder of little children. The world is a very different place from that perspective.

What will you do? Work your way through the list of activities here.

Secret to old age nothing to do with lifestyle

This is from an Adelaide blog by the exercise physiologists at iNform Health and Fitness in Adelaide. Yes, this is where I am attempting to get my body back into shape but the mention on today’s show is purely because this blog post just grabbed me by both ears and forced my face into the computer screen.

To be fair, this is a rant but it is a pious rant.

Max Martin, who was the author of this blog was very angry with a story in The Advertiser on May 20 because the story about the Methuselah Gene led on page three with a line stating that “the secret to old age could have nothing to do with lifestyle and everything to do with genes.”

The story in question celebrates a woman turning 101 who has this gene present (named after the oldest living person in the Bible who lived to be 969 years old – but that is a story for another day).

Max’s main axe to grind is that the story is at best a lazy beat up and at worst a miserable case of dangerously inaccurate and misleading reportage.

Here is the crux of the story. The Methuselah Gene is found in 10 per cent of young people but 30 per cent of centenarians. So, of course, this Rhodes Scholar journalism therefore infers that living to 100 comes down to whether or not you have this gene. But, as any primary school student would know, that leaves seven out of every ten centenarians reaching 100 without this gene present. End result – this is a non-story. The journalist might well have said 30 per cent of centenarians are blonde so therefore you will only make 100 if you are blonde. What pure nonsense.

My angst over this story is about the bargain basement journalism but Max’s angst is about how many South Australians saw this on page three and just let themselves off the hook for trying to incorporate more movement into their day, better food, or less harmful substances like tobacco. This is actually one of those rare occasions when you might wish for it to be Old Testament times so that this harmful journalism could be punished in a very severe way. The crime being the sacrifice of the public good in the name of a cheap, sleazy headline. I know that media outlets are first and foremost businesses created to make a profit but their unique role in society should hold them accountable when they peddle such devolutionary twaddle!

You can read Max’s blog post here but I will leave you with a choice selection: Why is it that the highest concentration of centenarians occurs in non-developed Western countries/regions? Could it also be that Methuselah’s contemporaries (and she would have had a few!) got to live as long as they did because they weren’t exposed to the stresses of modern western environments, or the processed foods, or the degrees of sedentary behaviour our communities experience? Could it be that perhaps their lifestyle had something to do with it? Have we wondered why most (if not all) centenarians are thin? Maybe its because their overweight counterparts don’t get to live that long?? Or wait, maybe its just genetics that keep them thin!!” Bravo!

The 19 most hilariously failed attempts at sexy album covers

Music to massage your mate by - album cover

Music to massage your mate by

There is not much to say about this, other than to share the link and let you laugh out loud.

But as a tempter, here are some of the album titles (let your imagination do the rest):

  • Music to Massage Your Mate By (just creepy)
  • John Travolta – Can’t Let You Go (this is a dopey, Mills and Boon cover)
  • Prince – Lovesexy (he looks more womanly nude than when wearing lace)
  • Orleans – Waking and dreaming (five guys all nude huddling in close)
  • Cher – Take me home (she is in golden, metallic lingerie with moose horns – dangerous from every angle)
  • Ted Nugent – Love grenade (this is the most disturbing album cover I have ever seen)

There you are, enjoy the rest at the full list on cracked.com.

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